Where Does Our Water Come From?
Our water starts as rainfall and snowmelt in the mountains, in the northern area of the region. Metro Vancouver manages three water supply areas - Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam – which together provide 2.7 million residents with a clean, reliable, and affordable supply of drinking water.
The rain and melting snow flow downhill through the mountain creeks and streams into large collection lakes called reservoirs. The Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam reservoirs store this water year-round for drinking water supply.
Metro Vancouver’s reservoirs are also bolstered by water from three alpine lakes: Burwell Lake, Palisade Lake, and Loch Lomond. These feeder lakes are typically used in mid-summer to supplement the supply of water available in the Capilano and Seymour reservoirs. The water from these deep, cold lakes is particularly high quality and serves to cool the water in the main reservoirs improving downstream aquatic habitat, particularly during periods of drought.
The reservoirs and water supply areas are closed to the public for protection from pollution, erosion, fire, and other hazards, with the exception of registered tours.
Capilano Water Supply Area & Reservoir
North Vancouver's Capilano Watershed supplies a third of the region's drinking water. The Capilano Reservoir is contained by the Cleveland Dam (constructed 1954), also operated by Metro Vancouver.
Visitors can see the reservoir from Cleveland Dam at the north end of Capilano River Regional Park. Visitors can also visit the Capilano River Hatchery, located in the Park and operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada since 1971.
Seymour Water Supply Area & Reservoir
Located in the North Shore Mountains, the Seymour Watershed supplies a third of the region's drinking water. Similar to Capilano, the Seymour Reservoir and dam are visible from public trails in the forests south of the reservoir, called the
Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR). These trails are open to the public, offering many outdoor experiences, and connections to other popular trails on the North Shore.
The Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant, which treats water from both Seymour and Capilano, is visible from the LSCR’s main parking lot.
Coquitlam Water Supply Area & Reservoir
The Coquitlam Watershed supplies a third of the region's drinking water. This supply proportion can increase to approximately half of the region's supply during the summer peak demand season and use of this source is anticipated to increase as the region grows.
The water supply area sits just north of the city of Coquitlam, and has been a municipal drinking water source since the late 1890’s (at that time, for the City of New Westminster). BC Hydro owns and operates the Coquitlam Dam and has an agreement with the Province for electricity production through the Coquitlam-Buntzen tunnel and it's Indian Arm generating station. Metro Vancouver has an agreement with the Province for a small volume of Coquitlam Lake water, but also has an agreement with BC Hydro for the additional volumes to meet regional drinking water needs.